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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Just How Far South Has the Public Gone on Iraq?

Pretty darn far. Yesterday, I mentioned that Bush’s approval rating on Iraq among independents is now a sizzling 29 percent.
Here’s some more data from that CBS News/New York Times poll that shows how extremely unhappy the public (especially independent voters) is with the Iraq situation. I was particularly struck by this finding: the public, by more than 3:1, thinks that US involvement in Iraq is creating more terrorists who are planning to attack the US (55 percent), rather than less (17 percent). Wow. More potential airline highjackers, bioterrorists and what have you, rather than less. That’s really an amazing finding and shows how far the administration’s strategy for the war on terror has sunk in public esteem.
Similarly, by about 4:1, the public thinks that US military action against Iraq has increased (47 percent) rather than decreased (13 percent) the threat of terrorism against the US. Looked at another way, 85 percent think the Iraq war has either made no difference or increased the threat of terrorism.
Moreover, by about 2:1 (60-32), the public believes the result of the war with Iraq has not been worth the associated loss of American life and other costs (that result skies to 65-28 among independents). And we’re edging toward a majority saying we should have stayed out to begin with (and we’re already there among independents).
But will the handover of sovereignty to the Iraqis get views on Iraq headed north again? I doubt it, unless the situation on the ground in Iraq improves dramatically, which seems highly unlikely. And keep in mind how the public is viewing this handover: they’re for it, but they regard it as a sign of failure, not success, for Bush’s policy. A just-released Gallup poll finds 60 percent saying the handover, given that stability has not yet been established, does indicate that US policy is failing, compared to 32 percent who think the handover means success (and it’s 66-25 among independents).
Note also that 70 percent now think significant numbers of US troops should remain in Iraq for only two years or less, but just 36 percent believe such a deadline will be met. Food for thought for John Kerry, who, so far, has not been able to open up a significant lead over Bush–despite his horrific numbers–on who can best deal with the Iraq situaiton.

9 comments on “Just How Far South Has the Public Gone on Iraq?

  1. Marcus Lindroos on

    > And yet, according to the latest GWU
    > Battleground Poll on Leadership Qualities, more
    > people rank Bush much higher than Kerry in five
    > out of six catagories…
    Nonetheless, I think the Kerry people could exploit two important things to their advantage. Number one, distinguish between “showing leadership” (=walking around with a megaphone at WTC ground zero, talking to troops and firemen) as the Bush campaign calls it, and actually LEADING people. Kerry has done the latter in Vietnam, of course. “Shrub” actually has very little leadership experience, when it comes to real-world leadership.
    Two: make WSJ columnist Peggy Noonan’s worst fears come true by presenting Kerry’s cautious, less reckless style as something POSITIVE! After all, if you have friends or relatives currently serving in Iraq, wouldn’t you rather prefer a President who actually relies on facts rather than blind faith before setting aside $200 billion and 0.15 million soldiers for a war?

  2. Doofus on

    As ABC’s The Note said recently, look for some major GOP surprises in July, August or September. The Chimpy and his Chimp People are in serious trouble, they know it, and they are not going to go with a fight — e.g., major dirty tricks fireworks.

  3. Mimiru on

    “New surveys by The New York Times and the Washington Post reveal a perilous plunge in the commander-in-chief’s credibility. The Times found that 79 percent of the public thinks Bush either is hiding something about Iraq, or worse, is “mostly lying” about it. The Post asked whether Bush or Kerry is “honest and trustworthy,” and the president was judged to be honest by 39 percent. Kerry came in at 52 percent.”

  4. Boots on

    And yet, according to the latest GWU Battleground Poll on Leadership Qualities, more people rank Bush much higher than Kerry in five out of six catagories…even the Honest and Trustworthy one!
    See http://www.pollingreport.com I just don’t understand their rational in having those opinions!

  5. oyster on

    I believe that another terrorist attack on American soil would end up HURTING President Bush, precisely because of the trend in views that these recent polls reflect. If voters associate Iraq with increased chances of a terrorist threat, and those threats are realized, I think they will punish Bush at the polls– notwithstanding conservative carping about how electing Kerry sends a message of weakness.

  6. Preston on

    Ruy- ‘independent’ voters seem to have opinions favorable to Kerry but how is the ‘independence’ of these voters determined. Is it past voting preference or current self-identification? If it is self-identification aren’t these numbers skewed? If you are disenchanted with republican policies aren’t you going to stop identifying yourself as one? So, indeed, ‘independents’ might be more critical of the administration but it isn’t a static population, but a growing group as Democrats begin to dominate the party preference i.d. I’m not sure of the significance of that but it seems like there might be different electoral strategies involved.

  7. Tim Shaw on

    Ruy, Check this out. This is a liberal blogger. What do you think, is the media going to stop reporting war news just in time for the most crucial point in the campaign?


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